• Blackout 10 Haunted House Review

    Blackout is choreographed engineered chaos and horror that will 100% leave its experience like a splinter in your brain. [...]

  • Bane Haunted House Review

    There is a a new top dog in NYC for the traditional haunted house. And its name is Bane Haunted House. [...]

  • Nightmare: I Can't See Haunted House Review

    I Can't See is an amusement park of sensory load management that challenges you to play along using your imagination all the while the Optics team makes the story seem too real [...]

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Blackout 10 (Haunted House Review)

My last Blackout review ever.

The original and first extreme haunted house experience: Blackout is counting down on their final shows of  their large scale Halloween haunt here in NYC. So this is probably the last time I write about it.

Blackout is like an old friend who wants to reminisce about the old glory days, nostalgia the fuck out of doing wild and crazy shit and immersing yourself in being the protagonist of your own horror movie. It's the originator of WTF, sexual depravity and waiver hesitation. There is nothing like going to a random street in NYC, seeing that door with 3 dots and saying, "Oh shit." Seeing the faces of frightened newbies and relaxed past survivors is mesmerizing. A Blackout experience is a story waiting to be told to friends and having them go "You fuckin did what?"

And so I went again. To get my Blackout on.

And this last run of The Blackout Experience is full of the crazy, the depraved, the WTF and the horror nostalgia of its last 10 years. As a veteran, I classified it as a hits parade of the best it has to offer. For the uninitiated, it can offer an alternative to the traditional HH and give you a merit badge of surviving an "extreme haunted house. It's for these reasons, anybody who is up to the challenge should experience it. 

This years version had all the classics of intense touching, crawling and suffocation. It had scenes from years past resulting in ridiculous interactions with full frontal nudity acting and play acting as a serial killer victim. There was also new scenes of insane which was refreshing. You'll laugh as your jerked around from room to room, you'll have to walk through a landmine of icky and be yelled at to follow instructions to a tee.

The ending will stimulate and then you'll get your party on.

It's always a challenge of what will work and what won't. My perspective on Blackout 10 is that I am clearly jaded and having been through the mass Halloween version and off season haunts so nothing phases me anymore. But I still get thrills and chills every time I go. In retrospect, I now began to appreciate the sheer assembly line dedication of the Blackout team, the actors and everybody who gets this up and running every night they perform.  Each scene/room has Blackout dialing up things to a 10 be it with simulated torture, then dials it back to an interactive format that makes you go WTF, then revs it up again to get all confused.

Blackout is choreographed engineered chaos and horror that will 100% leave its experience like a splinter in your brain.

When I went in 2010, I was a full on horror blogging and haunted house enthusiast. I wanted to challenge myself to to see the most fucked up horror movies and go to fucked up haunted houses.
My memories of going to my first Blackout  were full of dread and happiness when I finished.  To say

I did it was an accomplishment. I survived.

I survived...

the haunted house with a safe word....
the one where you had to sign the waiver...
the one with simulated torture....
the one with sexual imagery....
the one with immersive horror scenes....

That is the legend of horror house lore that is Blackout.

From one of my other reviews, this still holds true.

Blackout Haunted House is the haunted house other haunted houses are afraid of. But it hasn't lost it's edge. Blackout continues to remove you out of your normal world, scars you with  imagery you will have dreams and nightmares about for days to come and if you survive it, welcomes you in becoming part of the scariest and challenging horror events you will ever go through. Because of Blackout, I will never see a haunted house the same way again.  You won't either.  

 The Vitals

Blackout Haunted House Reviews
Blackout Haunted House Walkthroughs
Blackout Haunted House Invite Only, Off Season Winter/Spring Haunt Reviews and Walkthroughs

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Bane Haunted House (Haunted House Review)

There is a a new top dog in NYC for the traditional haunted house. And its name is Bane Haunted House.

In the far west side of Manhattan sits Bane Haunted House and after moving here from Jersey they are now scaring New Yorkers with a dizzying amount of jolly jump scares from some enthusiastic actors and a haunted house maze that was perfectly confusing and so much fun. In the roughly 30 minute or so walkthrough, you'll go through some nicely crafted rooms with actors who are just fuckin ninjas in their stealthiness. It all adds up to a good romp of scary for newbies and a satisfying experience for the hardcore.

So what makes Bane the top dog?

Right before you go in, the personnel gives you some playful banter and when I went, 2 people called MERCY (their safe word which enables patrons to exit after they chicken out). The ticket taker whoops it up and calls out their cowardliness.

They seemingly have a ton of actors in every crevice, window and around every corner. I stood toe to toe with a wedding dressed clothed figure trying to see if she was a mannequin or actor. You can guess which one.

Actors dedicated to their craft, who mock you with glee, who stay in character and tell you your delving into hell and who lie to you about what is going to happen next. You'll get single, double and triple actors getting you scared. When I could talk to the actors, I played along and asked my quirky questions, offered my help and they responded. Fuck, these actors gave it their all and its greatly appreciated.

The room placements are are a solid maze with some rooms with well positioned jump scaring actors and others creatively confusing on where you need to go next. It's this "everything looks the same, where is the fuckin exit?" maze that's damn well done.

You'll get hit with some creative set pieces and even a "little girl" you really don't want to play with. The little nuances of crawling and spinning were nice touches. The ending had me fist pumping as well.

Hopefully Bane is here to stay in the city. It's a top notch haunted house that clearly wants to scare the shit out of you. The actors immersively play along with you, sneak on you with well timed scares and will touch you so you soak in the creepiness. Each room builds to another more terrifying room and it concludes with a definite 360 finale that was super duper fun.

It's a great addition the NYC haunted house scene that won't disappoint. Bane.....

You're the man now the dog.

The Vitals

Monday, October 14, 2019

Nightmare: I Can't See (Haunted House Review)

In the shadow of 1 World Trade Center is the doorway above for Nightmare NYC's I Can't See, Tim Haskell and Psycho Clan's latest Halloween immersive theater horror experience. I've attended every variation of Nightmare since 2009 when they unleashed Vampires, Superstitions, Fairy Tales, The Experiment, Killers and This is Real.

What I've always loved about every incarnation are the themes and dedication to making sure everybody who goes are immersed into a rabbit hole the Nightmare team creates and if you fully engulf yourself and play along you'll leave with a giant grin on your face.

I Can't See left that grin again.

I Can't See is an amusement park of sensory load management that challenges you to play along using your imagination all the while the Optics team makes the story seem too real. It's a clever play a long that hits you right away. The moment you walk in, I Can't See greets you with loving Optics research team and they play their part. You're briefed and then blindfolded twice while given headphones to listen to a fun story if teens doing teen stuff.

You enter with friends but it's a solo experience through and through. Listen to the prompts, follow the instructions and have your senses challenged. Touch and feel a variety of random story cues will make you jump, taste the developing scenes, smell them as well and hear the craziness.

Your sight is useless here and I imagined quite a scenario based on hearing character voices and descriptions. The story is a bit cliched but it has its moments. The ending has a good twist if you remember what you've been told.

I Can't See depends on you buying into the fact you'll need to channel your 5 year old self and imagine the story playing out while Nightmare provides you the extrasensory overload to get your chills on. You're not going to have actors jump out to scare you or see elaborate sets. So know going in, this is a theater for your imagination and you'll enjoy it.  It's like immersive podcast that challenges you just enough to get your other senses tingling, all the while avoiding "death" which may or may not come...depending on your wits.

I definitely couldn't see but I could hear my heart beating....fast.

The Vitals

Monday, March 18, 2019

Triple Threat (Review)

Triple Threat 

Directed by Jesse V Johnson

At one point on this site I was going to replace the Van Damme spin kicks rating system with Tony Jaa elbows to the head. I was digging Ong Bak and all the Jaa muy thai action paloozas he was making. I figured the system should evolve.

Then The Raid: Redemption came out and Iko Uwais was bashing heads and taking on one million thugs to 1 and that would mean an update to the rating logo. I'm keeping it JVCD spin kicks for now because he's fighting MS-13.

Triple Threat has been described as The Expendables of martial action stars. The roster is insane. Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Tiger Chen, Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White and JeeJa Yanin.

Could the hype live up to the movie?

You betcha.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

A hit contract is taken out on a billionaires daughter intent on bringing down a major crime syndicate. A down and out team of mercenaries must take on a group of professional assassins and stop them before they kill their target.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

Triple Threat is the action equivalent of the Golden State Warriors vs Houston Rockets. A flick with serious star power that's going to racked up a mountain of action points on a massive scale. Just like seeing a Steph Curry vs James Harden match up, the movie delivers you 1 on 1 and 1 on 2 match ups of the world's biggest martial arts action stars fighting against each other.

Do you wanna see Chen vs Iko? How about Adkins vs Jaa? MJW vs Iko? Iko vs Yanin? You're going to see these and more. The dream match ups are made and they deliver. It's a ballet of choreographed punches and kicks, suped up chase scenes and the carnage of the best vs the best. You almost have to feel sorry for the redshirts and low level henchmen and security who tried to stop all of them.

There are some catch our breath parts that break up the action craziness. Chen, Jaa and Celina Jade, the daughter with the contract on her head have some light hearted moments. On the other side, MJW, Adkins and Iko play mercenary antagonists with a twist. These scenes are mostly filler as you wait for the final showdowns.

The most underrated star in the mix is Adkins. He's been in a shitload of action movies and we all know who he is but somehow he still gets over looked even in a sick ensemble like this one. He holds in own as be battles Jaa, Chen and Uwais. Adkins plays an evil mercenary to a tee and elevates the other all stars during their 1 on 1s. It's why Triple Threat reaches critical awesomeness.

As much as the flick delivers its triple threat, a part of me really wanted to see one of the 3 good guys be on the opposite end. What would a Jaa vs Uwais extended action scene look like? You get a glimpse of that in an earlier scene but the WWE definition of a triple threat match is 3 guys fighting each other. Oh what could have been.

My only other gripe is all the random gun violence that seemed uneccessary. You have the top action stars on the fuckin planet and they are shooting at each other with AR-15s. Why would you not take advantage of this?

WTF moment

JeeJa's demise

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

Triple Threat delivers all the elbows to the head, upside down spin kicks and martial arts goodness you want. Instead of Jaa or Uwais battling easily dispatched henchmen, seeing the biggest action stars of today battle each other is a sight to behold.

You'll get your Triple Threat team up and honestly they were never in trouble. They won in a clean sweep.


3 Spinkicks


Friday, October 28, 2016

Gravesend Inn Haunted Hotel (Review)

There isn't a a lot of haunted houses in NYC. Some get infamy like Blood Manor, others are doing different things. However, there is always one every year I seem to never go to that's on various site site lists and that's Gravesend Inn Haunted Hotel. So I decided to trek out DUMBO and finally cross this haunt off my NYC haunted house bucket list because I clearly wasn't going to go to Randalls Island for a boring hayride again.

The Gravesend Inn Haunted Hotel is a very short but fun mini version of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. It's literally like only 15 minutes if you go slower than continental drift. It's not filled with actors looking to BOO! you but is the result of the craftsmanship of New York City College of Technology students who have created animatronic set pieces and rooms that are as professional as any big amusement park.

A few actors scare you on line (the only annoyance was waiting 45 min for a 15 minute ride) and a few are in the haunt. But it's the motion detected rooms with top notch animatronics and accompanying jolting scares that are quite good.

The rooms all have clearly timed scares and the entire walkthrough is supposed to resemble a hotel, from boiler rooms, to bedrooms, to bathrooms, to a study and to concluding winding pathway leading you out. There is a mix of old school talking props to high tech HD screens. One room was upside down which was awesome.

It won't be scary to a hardened jaded viewer but tweens, teens and the occasional wussy with the rightly timed scare might be screaming.

I think the best part of the haunt is it is supposed to show off the school's entertainment department so as you finally exit you end up in a theater and on 2 big screens see the command and control center time as they scare the unsuspecting guests. One monitor shows the surveillance cameras in all the rooms and the other shows the layout of the haunt and how they guide the crowds.

This was fascinating to see and as you hear the screams from the haunt, you're also seeing the people react to the scares. It's really damn hysterical to see.

All in all, Gravesend Inn uses creativity and education to make a quaint little haunt for kids and teens who want a quick scare in Brooklyn. Because it's so short and only scary for noobs, I'll grade it on a curve and say the Gravesend Inn Haunted Hotel is 3 solid spin kicks.

The Vitals

Sunday, September 18, 2016

House 7A: A Haunted Encounter (Review)

via House 7a Facebook page
I'll admit, it's a bit odd going to a haunted house in September. It's a a bit too warm to get into the Halloween spirit but when a Twitter follower told me about House 7a at Governor's Island I figured I should check it out. It's never to early to get your haunt on.

Funded on Kickstarter House 7A, is a free "daymare" haunt (as it runs form 12pm-5pm) on the island. Groups of 8 enter the very cramped little house 7a complete it's own created mythology. Following a candy path and reading clues dictated by a green light, we find out what has happened to the Crowe family, as it seems the family has a mysterious entity living with them.

Running about 20 min or so House 7a is very atmospheric instead of actors looking to jump scare you. The rooms are carefully staged and each room is crafted with Halloween props to evoke the mystery. From darkened rooms with Satanic writing to daylight rooms with a sense of creepiness it clearly has a Shining like vibe with letters, tape recordings evolving the story.

House 7a has the spirit of an indie DIY haunt. I like it's atmosphere and they describe themselves as a "slow burn" haunt which is 100% accurate. You also get some surprises which is what the people seem to expect these days. But as a free haunt and the fact you'll get walk ons just wanting to go in, 8 people per tour was a but crowded and it seems they wanted to get as many people in so they did tours every half hour. I think if I experienced more of a non rushed walk through and they used some well timed music or simple special effects, it might have been more effective. I was expecting little "dead" kids actors scaring me and other adults and kids in the haunt. Now that would have been crazy scary.

House 7a is an appetizer haunt before we go to the Halloween season. You can sense it's artists doing an artistic haunted house. For what it is, a free immersive art haunt, it works. However if you're looking for a haunted houses that pushes boundaries, you should probably look elsewhere.

In conclusion, House 7a brought me to Governors Island, a place I've never been to oddly enough. So I enjoyed most of my day taking in the Island, eating some food truck vendy food and enjoyed my Saturday afternoon. Going to an early haunted house in Sept was just the proverbial gravy.

The Vitals

Saturday, October 17, 2015

New York Haunted Hayride (Review)

I've been to many haunted hayrides. I've been to Field of Screams (Yay!), Waldorf Estate of Fear (Nay!), Reaper's Revenge (Yay and Nay) and Legends of the Fog. So I think I know what's good and what's not. What's good is when you have those enclosures or barns that the hayride stops in and forces the riders to feel trapped then zapped with what horror the creators thought up. What's good is the actors getting up close and personal, jumping on the tractor and scaring you from well thought hiding spots.

What's bad? Well that can be summed up in one attraction: NY Haunted Hayride.

In a historic ABC Shark Tank episode, Mark Cuban invested something like a million dollars to help expand LA Haunted Hayride. With that new found cash, they headed to NYC this year and I'm not sure where that money went.

Located in Randall's Island, the trek to the hayride is an adventure in itself. You can of course Uber or taxi or drive yourself to Randall's Island, but I decided to take their shuttle which if it wasn't for the pro-Mets fan driver, you could have been a kid being lured by a serial killer in a mysterious white van.

Randall's Island is not the woods. It's home to a psychiatric hospital, a soccer stadium and fields and tons of baseball diamonds. You're going to see the lights from the skyline across the river and hear the rolling of cars from the Triboro bridge. But you work with what you have right?

Well you would think it would be redesigned for an urban environment but somehow they didn't take full advantage of NYC themes and horrors. Why not play on escaped mental patients? NYC underground sickos? But what did we get as an opener? A KISS tribute band.

Say what?

The spookiness of the entrance is indeed fantastic. Smokey ambiance with actors dressed in Silent Hill monster costumes greeted you but the line formation was simply human cattle led to slaughter. You're led to winding lines and then actually lined up as livestock in rent a fence cages. With a NY attitude a woman yelled at us to "not run to the wagon but walk"...saying this multiple times. Some of us are partially educated and I would assume even assholes would understand this. We're not idiots...well not most of us.

The slow ride on this half hour hayride has you pass through the the ominous world of Randall's Island golf center and then you get some odd non scary weirdness. A supposed rock band monsters, clowns who are clowning half ass, an orphanage with "children" and an ending that turns into some sort of gospel choir. Again say what?

In the middle of MY ride, the tractor seemingly got stuck in the mud and the driver had to ask all 20 or so of us riders to exit so he could make a U-turn. I shit you not. At first I thought this was part f the show, but somehow this was in ineptitude of a ride that turned ridiculous. The hobo actor who had sprayed us with supposed germ coughing wanted everybody to sing Happy Birthday as we waited to be reloaded into the wagon. With a highway near us, my friends and I wanted to hail a cab right then and there.

There were other "scares" along the way, most of them boring, unenthusiastic and actors who tried their best to perform but just seemed out of their element. There were a few sets and scenarios I hadn't seen in a hayride before like some caged mutant monsters and some well dressed "You're Next" killers. But nothing I'm writing to Bloody Disgusting about. I get the location was not woodsy but if injected with a NYC vibe of grittiness and city mythos, it might have turned out differently. New Yorkers are a tough people to scare and if you can turn our city dweller fear against us, you're doing your homework. Give us a fucked up scenario and we'll jump like a 10 year old kid.

For first time hay riders and non jaded haunt goers, the thrills were there. Some riders were indeed having a grand old time either screaming in horror/laughter, filming the entire journey on their phone and making one liner quips at the actors. I would assume these people are the target audience for New York's first ever haunted hayride. If you're a noob and a millennial, you may get your haunted hayride fix.

I had heard LA's Haunted Hayride was legendary but I assume NYC is not getting the full package. And that's a shame. With the lack of haunted houses this year, we deserve better.

If you want a daily dose of heart attacks, scares and hold your breath moments, best you watch the Mets play the Cubs in the NLCS.

The Vitals

Saturday, July 04, 2015

The Ladies of the House (Review)

The Ladies of the House

Directed by John Stuart Wildman

I was a little hesitant when I saw the trailer for The Ladies of the House. Was that....Belladonna in the trailer? Err I mean not that I watch porn or anything but I do watch pornstars in horror movies. And from past experience, it usually turns out kinda eye gouging horribly bad.

But let's not judge a movie by its cover or even by its trailer. Hence watching Ladies was and odd horror-copia of 50s style, misogynistic men getting some comeuppance and an imagining of what would happen if the We Can Do It! woman in this wartime propaganda poster decided to become a sadistic, serial killing cannibal.

The Ladies of the House is a rockabilly feministic-horror movie that somehow injects some colorful cinema with an exploitation vibiness that I've never seen before. And when you can show me something I've never seen before, that's a damn win in my book. Though plot and pacing are classed in a whatever, it makes it up in gore and some Chainsaw Massacre cross gender switching. Say what? Keep reading then.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

Wildman's directorial debut is full of Edward Scissorhands/Pleasantville rainbow colors that for an indie horror movie, you have to give it props. The gore and splatter are in the same boat. It's clearly expensed and the FX are old school proper.

Solid performances by the troupe of strippers turned cannibal marauders that stereotype a genre of female archetypes. Melody Sisk as Getty is ripped out of that propaganda poster while Lin, her lesbian lover is head of household. Brina Palencia as Crystal is Dexter wacko. Our male lambs are slightly forgettable so I really won't talk about them. What you have in terms of characters and plot become blurred in a weird way. A way that can confuse the typical horror fan.

Clearly we have evil on both sides as plot wise our bumbling male horn dogs do some dumb shit resulting in dumb shit that are now Leatherfacey femme vixens need to get revenge for. Everybody deserves to die if you think about it logically. LOTH somehow doesn't want to get bogged down in your rooting interest but instead wants to flip the cliches upside down. As I thought about it, it's like the equivalent of a jock wearing red cowboy boots. Does it work?

Sorta. A feministic horror movie seems like an oxymoron. Can you really make your killing femme fatales into revenge served cold slasher hunters? And with gratuitous nudity and lesbian strippers? Like I said, now that's something I've never seen before...and now I have.

The Ladies of the House is a clearly a new type of indie horror exploitation. It's clearly smart, gory and wicked. It's not your typical horror and that's what I liked about it. At a solid 90 min, there's clearly an hour of good shit in here. Some inter spliced foreshadowing seemed out of place in my opinion.

John Stuart Wildman seemingly has a whole new sub genre with The Ladies of the House. Horror fans need to inject something new into their diet. There is meat on the bones with The Ladies of the House and its damn tasty.


Shower boob
Lesbian boobs


Butchery blood and guts
Slice and dice

WTF moment 

Crystal's room

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

It was called Stripped the movie at one point. I like the the title now. Check out the trailer below and the Facebook page.

Rating: 2 and half spinkicks 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

It Follows (Review)

It Follows (2015)

Directed by David Robert Mitchell

There is a subtext in It Follows that harkens back to the horror cliches of sex = dead. But mostly in other generic mainstream horror, it's a scene does in haste and is usually followed by a stab stab stab.

It Follows does the opposite. Teenagers do teenage stuff and then the movie lingers. And the lingering creates a horror movie that shows us the consequences from boy and girl and the horror that slowly walks towards our final girl in some sort of calculated way.

It Follows is the indie horror equivalent of Blair Witch, taking a simple story and creating a mythos. I mean we are not given much, some few clues and details but already the movie has created a wikipedia of possibilities of what It is. The movie has slow, methodical pacing, its characters Jay (Maika Monroe) is brilliantly homegrown awesome and its backup characters give it a Gus Van Sant level of authenticity.

The big word here is minimalistic horror. Mitchell uses levels of gross "It" stalkers who seem to be level up in different settings from a school to house to the final showdown. You're jump scares come because in theory you don't know the rules of how or when the come though. We're given a loose rule book of how it passes along and what they need to do but it's still cloudy.

In the end, the final scene is mesmerizing to watch. Underneath the Halloween daylight creepiness scenes glittered throughout the film, the final scene has tension, suspense and the scares.

It's clear that when a movie like It Follows defies the odds and becomes a horror hit, it puts a smile to my face. A new horror IP. Originality that takes from a miss mosh of 70s, 80s and 90s horror and creates a horror movie that satisfies.

We need more It Follows. We need other filmmakers to follow suit. 

Plus a sequel. Dammit give us a sequel too.

gross woman boobies

A few scrapes

WTF moment
Stalkers galore!

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

This is the hidden gem of 2015. Somehow watch this and be amazed by the brilliance.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ranking Blackout Haunted House 2010-2014

Happy Halloween!

2014 seems to be the year of the extreme haunted house. Mainstream media and sites are covering haunts like Blackout, McKamey Manor, Freakling Bros and others writing articles for and against (mostly against). I've given you the 5 Basic Levels of Haunted Houses. There is just a type of person that loves the extremeness of it all. But as more extreme haunts begin their initial inception, let's talk about the one that seems to have started it all.


Blackout is different each year but it garnered a reputation for it's walk through alone and full body contact touching. People (and you journalists who don't give me credit) have referenced Blackout in these articles but as a Survivor, I'm now ranking the haunted house that other haunted houses hate. These are only the October haunts and they all built up the reputation that this Halloween attraction should be feared. On to the list!

5.) 2014 (House)

The Jaded Viewer says: The first year you didn't go through alone. Less touching more Stanford prison experiment.  It's not as WTF and extreme as previous incarnations but it had some moments.

4.) 2013 (Elements)

The Jaded Viewer says: Blackout expands to LA but gets NYC leftovers. It's the first Blackout where you make choices and it has a theme. Dirty, grimy and full of rough play and nudity. The ending was intense. 

3.) 2010 

The Jaded Viewer says: My first ever Blackout and the first ever Halloween version. It's the one that had me shaking my head and going WTF did I sign up for. Condoms on the floor, full on nudity and complete total pitch black darkness and random touching became normal. One of the very best.

2.) 2011

The Jaded Viewer says: This was the year of the water boarding, the mouth rape, the bloody tampon. The angry naked man chasing me as I saved a girl chained to the floor. This was the year where I was the star of my own horror movie.

1.) 2012

The Jaded Viewer says: Blackout takes extreme to its limits. Punishment both physical and psychological. Naked ballerina, vagina condom, bucket full of shit, orders being yelled and naked girl dentist. This is Blackout working on all cylinders. The apex of Blackout. When people became afraid of what a haunted house could be. Darkness and senses being tested. Safeties were uttered a plenty.

Did you go to any of these haunts? Agree with the rankings? Comment below or on Twitter or The Jaded Viewer Facebook page!

Next up. Ranking the Blackout Off Season haunts!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Reaper's Revenge Haunted House (Review)

I thought I was done with my haunted house road trips. In total, I've been to 7 already this month. But  when opportunity arises to go to 1 more, who am I to say no?

So I found myself near Scranton, PA and with family in tow I dragged them to a haunt that touts itself as America's Best Haunted Attraction. It's a bold strategy Cotton let's see if it pays off for them. And does it?  After going to Reaper's Revenge, it kinda does.

Reaper's Revenge packs a formidable punch in the 4 attractions that it offers. It's a mish mash of a solid haunted hayride, an outdoor maze fool of mischievous carnies and killer clowns, a pitch black maze that seemed to have no end and a quarantine zone that was stellarly executed. Some of the attractions were perfectly executed, others were not but not without the crew trying to make it work which I'll get to.

Overall Reaper's Revenge was a jam packed hour and half of solid haunts mixing in minimalistic creepy with high tech Hollywood special effects. You get a good snack size sampling of all of them for a $35 admission. There's a bon fire and stage as you wait or hang out and you'll be outdoors for most if it. I'll admit I was pleasantly surprised that this haunt seemingly around Scranton used the deep woods to scare the shit out people.

The Haunted Hayride

Reaper's Revenge is one of those rare haunts that forces you to go to each haunt one after the other. You don't get to choose which haunt you go to first or last. You'll pack into a haunted hayride and be with this group as you go along. The hayride was filled with horror monster cameos from a Jason Voorhees, Samara from The Ring and Michael Myers. They offer an option of either being touched or not be touched through all the attractions. If you're a big fat pussy, you can opt to wear a neon green glow in the dark necklace. This necklace seemed to complete the outfit of tween girls wearing Harry Potter scarves and Uggs.

However if you Survivor Up! you'll have the actors get really up close and personal, using chainsaws and jump scaring you as they Ninja up from their hiding places. It seems you can even get them to do your bidding as had my nephew almost get carried away by a chainsaw wielding maniac. There's some good high flying acts during the hayride which is split in 2 (you start off in the hayride and the continue it after you go through the carnival on your way to pitch black). You'll get your standard zombies and moonshine inbred rednecks (I hope they were actually actors, but fuck it's PA right?) Also a few well timed scares like a big ass spider were fuckin awesome.

Lost Carnival

This is a good outdoor maze that utilizes the woods to it's full effect. You'll go through some spooky visuals like roller coasters and a clown fun house. There's a carnival aspect with some potential games to play that come with some sarcastic carnies and some unexpected surprises. There were lots of scares and obstacles I wasn't expecting that even got a hardcore haunted house veteran like myself got me jumping. Even some twins had me singing along. Good stuff.

Pitch Black

I was hoping this would be executed with some nuance awesomeness. However, it seems getting a Saturday crowd through all these attractions, you'll sometimes sacrifice terror for efficiency. Pitch Black is an indoor maze where you'll walk through pitch black darkness. There's a few props  and some actors that will touch you getting you to shiver and scream. But as I went in, we were packed in like cattle and could barely walk through this traffic jam. The staff seemed like they were separating the groups to get people more breathing room but it just didn't work. Good idea, badly executed.

Sector 13

I'll admit. This was probably the best of the mazes at Reaper's Revenge. It's got a good theme (quarantined patrons with infected) and as an outdoor maze the sets and props were well fuckin done.  I think the Ebola jokes were already on peoples minds. Soldiers start you off and mad doctors do a quick check up (I got picked for an unneeded injection). You'll see soldiers patrolling and occupied beds of the infected who seem to have turned into mutant monsters. Good scares come out of all the rooms and from unexpected places. Oh could we be far off from Sector 13 these days?

Final Thoughts

Reaper's Revenge is a gem of a haunted attraction that seems to hit all the common fears we all have. Darkness, clowns, sickness and the horror icons we all few up watching. Packaged into 4 successive haunts, you'll definitely get all your scares and fun in less than 2 hours. I was kind of impressed by it all. is it America's best?  I guess you be the judge.

The Vitals

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gateway's Haunted Playhouse 2014 (Review)

You never really know what you'll expect when you go to a haunted house. The night before you go, you start dreaming up worst case scenarios, the unthinkable, the WTF. These dreams become nightmares, frightmares and terrifying dreamscapes. When you wake up, you start to realize it's all in your head. Your mind playing tricks on you.

Then you head to the haunted house. Relatively ready and prepared that none of what you dreamed up couldn't actually be true, you enter all ready to go.

That's when Gateway's Haunted Playhouse takes your nightmare and makes it into reality.

Gateway's Haunted Playhouse is one of the most inventive, creative and clever haunted houses in all of America. This year, they've incorporated a theme of dreams and nightmares and the haunt takes this theme and amplifies it into maximum terror. You'll be diagnosed by doctors and nurses, rattled by mad patients and be stalked by killer kids. This all happening in the midst of a maze spanning indoors and outdoors and have you jumping at every corner.

This is my second time going through Gateway. I have always thought their layout is what a haunt should be. Located in Bellport, NY the haunt is built on top of an actual theater/playhouse and its all done by a cast and crew full of that DIY and indie spirit. An outdoor bar supplies liquid courage as you wait for your turn to enter the haunt and food trucks supply some fast treats. They also have outside acts like fire breathers, coffin rides and will have on tap some interactive entertainment for the family to enjoy in the next few weeks. Gateway really makes it a true night of horror-ific entertainment.

But the creme de la creme is the haunted playhouse.

The entrance is a spooktacular homage to an asylum gone wrong. You'll go in and see mental patients, doctors and nurses in all states of disarray. As you walk through, the constant echo of a simple whisper of "Don't go to sleep" will be heard, a reminder that you've enter a Freddy Krueger like dreamworld where your worst fears are now coming to life. Children, tweens and teens cackle in the dark and what seems to be lifeless corpses will reanimate without notice. Each room is crafted into it's own box of nightmare artifacts and has its unique brand of creepy. The smells will fill you with revulsion, the floors will feel like jello and keep you off balance. Tight spaces, body bags and well timed gusts of pressurized air are just one of the many things to keep you on your toes.

One of the highlights that got me literally jumping up and down are the well timed, human and computer activated props. Look out for things from above and when you think your safe an innocent looking room will fall and contract. One gigantic mechanical prop monster jump scared the shit out of me. The genius in this is that all these props and monster effects are hand crafted by the team at Gateway. These aren't your bought through a haunted house Halloween factory animatronics. They are detailed, built in house and meticulously crafted instruments of terror. You'll also encounter a school bus from hell and an ending that will have you holding on for dear life.

The production team at Gateway does a good job of spacing out the haunt so that the people don't feel like cattle. It seems a groups span 6 or so people and they are spread evenly and when it does get to feel like a line at the post office, actors will make sure to "trap" you so that it evens itself out.

The overall theme can get lost if you're not paying attention. I had hoped the actors would keep reiterating the sleep theme as you go along but it wasn't that evident at times. It did also get a bit crowded during the walk through and as I played leader, I tried to do a bit of separation from the people ahead of me. Also, some well conceived scares where darkness and an actor with a flashlight didn't go as planned. Finally, you may have to wait a bit to enter if you don't have a fast pass but being in the Midway with drink and food should keep you occupied as you wait your turn. But these are all little nitpicks in an otherwise awesome haunted house.

Gateway Haunted Playhouse should be the example of what a well executed, done with passion haunted house should be. Haunt Director Michael Baker and Managing Producer Paul Allan run a haunted attraction with stellar actors, top notch special effects and a desire to make sure you walk out of the haunted playhouse exhilarated and entertained.

Whatever nightmare you've long feared will be right in front of you when you enter Gateway's Haunted Playhouse. Halloween is a time to meet them the face to face.

Why don't you face it head on and have fun doing it at one of the best haunted houses in America.

The Vitals

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nyctophobia 2014 (Review)

The first question in Nyctophobia's FAQ is: What is Nyctophobia? The answer they provide: Correct. Well that's just vague and odd. Some clarity would help I think.

But that's the beauty of Nyctophobia. You're not going to get a straight answer. What you experience is a mystery hidden in another mystery. It's a journey that's both visceral and immersive that its hard to even explain after you've gone through it. And you know what else it is?

It's fuckin awesome.

Nyctophobia is the equivalent of entering a living, breathing dream world that has you falling through the proverbial paranormal rabbit hole. You'll wake up in darkness, see flashes of mysterious figures, push the story driven arc by talking to some oddball characters, glimpse feint images of yourself and others and then you'll have to answer questions that border on the real or surreal. Nyctophobia 2014 is a remarkable experience that takes fringe theater into a whole new level.

Set in the middle of Nowhere, Long Island part of the charm of Nyctophobia is it still feels like an underground experience, only receiving the secret location the day of. The adventure begins as you drive out where GPS devices usually fail. The waiting is part of the fun of it (if you like waiting).

Entering in pairs but then separated, you'll think you've spent over an hour at Nyctophobia though it only lasts 20 or so minutes. Once in, you start to realize as I did last year, this is NOT a haunted house. It's not a scary or hardcore BOO! place but one that has you fully immerse yourself in a short novella filled with much weirdness and an interconnected story.

You truly transform into the central character and the actors will react accordingly. You can respond to all the dialogue and you'll get replies that are unique to you. What Eric Striffler has done this year is a sight to behold in that he takes a minimalist approach to maximize the spooky, the creepy and the WTF.

I will admit, I had to talk to my friends and Eric himself to fully comprehend the residual plot that was being echoed. Simple items, conversation are all interconnected if you watch out for them. As much as I think I'm smart to get the easter eggs, I wish they just told me what these were. A scene that plays out in the middle with some Q&A seemed out of place (I'm not sure how it fit in) though the ending will have you probably not looking your best. With any sort of interactive theater, interactivity is key and the more decisions and actions the participant can do only enhances the experience.

But it's slow, methodical approach is what separates Nyctophobia apart from any haunt. Parts of Nyctophobia are cohesive and have you filled with dread of what's to come. A simple walk without sight had me on edge. Even the simple act of sitting down gave a sense of vulnerability as characters would get up close and personal. As you move along, they'll remove senses like sight and hearing and emphasize touch and taste. It's a mental tug o war.

The performances by the actors are top notch, from the mute silents to the quirky serious. They seem to make sure you're in the moment and personalize what is a very tight knit structured walk through. Nyctophobia also uses their space to create different levels of eerie. You really don't know what could happen next.

My first encounter with Nyctophobia was last year was something I didn't expect. It was like a Last of Us scavenger hunt. This year, I really thought I'd be experiencing something along those lines but I was dead wrong.  The most simplistic analogy would be to say is it's an interactive holodeck of The Others. But really it's much more.

So what is Nyctophobia?


Was that too vague?

The Vitals

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